I saw a commercial this evening about a particular pharmaceutical, which shall remain nameless, except to say it supposedly treats a condition that presents with symptoms of muscle pain. I’ve noticed a few things with these commercials, and I’m calling bullshit on big pharma. More on that in a second.
In these commercials, the affected person is always a successful independent entrepreneur with a flourishing business…that is, until her condition renders her unable to work. In this case, the woman actor has a job working from home in some type of craft/art occupation, with a fantastic studio full of beautiful objects. And of course, her condition, which causes muscle pain, makes it impossible for her to practice her art, and threatens both her lifestyle and her livelihood.
But then she takes her medicine, the pharmaceutical in question, and she is immediately cured. The music swells, and over a fancy montage the woman is able to get back to her flourishing business and create art that will undoubtedly, one day soon, stand with the likes of Michelango’s David.
And we, the viewers, watch her miraculous recovery with baited breath, and almost miss the list of side effects that are quickly, and slyly, slipped in by a narrator speaking in a very low whisper.
In this commercial, the list of possible side effects include:
- serious allergic reactions
- suicidal thoughts or actions
- new or worsening depression
- unusual changes in mood or behavior
- swelling of skin
- changes in eyesight, including blurry vision
- muscle pain or fever or tired feeling
- sleepiness waking
- swelling of hands and feet
I counted 10 possible side effects from taking this medicine, many of which seem pretty serious to me, potentially as serious as the condition that the medicine is supposed to cure. And take a look at #7: muscle pain. That’s right, a possible side effect of the medicine is actually the thing the medicine is supposed to cure.
Does that mean the medicine makes the muscle pain worse, or that the medicine does absolutely nothing, and the side effect is actually just the original symptom shining through? I’m not really sure, but I think I can say, without going too far out there on a limb, that this commercial is absolutely ridiculous.
Pharmaceutical advertising expenditures are estimated between $30 and $50 billion per year, and for good reason – it helps big pharma make insane profits. In the last few years, during a recession, the top 20 big pharma companies have combined revenues of more than $500 billion. That’s more than 1/2 trillion dollars.
I’ll admit, I am not a pharmaceutical expert, and I am not a doctor. Just a concerned citizen who actually watches commercials and calls a company to the carpet when they publish something that warrants a closer look. A much closer look.
Ok, I’m climbing down from my soap box and going to bed. Happy thanksgiving everyone.